Kelly Ripa Addresses 'Live!' Scandal As She Returns To The Show: 'Our Long National Nightmare is Over'

Kelly Ripa made her return to LIVE! on Tuesday after an absence that began with co-host Michael Strahan's departure announcement.

It's been a long week for the folks at LIVE! With Kelly and Michael.

But on Tuesday, after a conspicuous absence that began right after Michael Strahan announced his impending departure, Ripa returned to an emotional ovation from the studio audience.

"Guys guys guys," she said to the raucous audience after Strahan offered a delicate kiss on his co-host's hand. "Our long national nightmare is over."

The gag was the first the world had heard from Ripa since she vanished from public view April 19. She was reportedly "blindsided" by Strahan's decision to move to a full-time gig at Good Morning America.

Watch: Kelly Ripa Jets to Turks and Caicos With Husband Amid 'Live!' Debacle

"After 26 years with this company, I earned the right" to a sick day, Ripa said in reference to the unscheduled day off she took last week prior to a 20th anniversary trip with her husband Mark Consuelos.

"I know half of you called in sick to be here so we get each other," she told the audience before her address took a more serious turn.

"I always speak from the heart," she said. "I didn't want to come out here and say something I might regret...

"But this started a much bigger conversation about consideration and respect in the workplace."

In the hours prior to her re-appearance, reports emerged that Ripa had been given a personal apology from ABC big wigs for not including her in discussions of Strahan's departure.

Ripa appeared to touch on those rumors Tuesday.

"This is my second home," Ripa said. "We are family... Apologies have been made.

"The best thing to come out of all of this is that our parent company has assured me that LIVE! is a priority."

Watch: Kelly Ripa Pens Thank You Note To Staff Before Returning To Live!

Ripa then spoke directly to Strahan. "This is a tremendous opportunity. I couldnt be and we couldn't be prouder of you," she said.

Ripa closed her speech by playing down the seriousness of the daytime controversy as she and Strahan settled in to start the show.

"My dad, who was a bus driver for 30 years, thinks we're all crazy," she joked.

So did Strahan laugh as Ripa ripped on the show controversy? It's hard to say since the camera never panned to him at any point during her speech. 

Not until the duo was all nestled in their seats for hosting duties did Strahan speak. 

"I'm so happy you're back...I love you. You brought me here," he said. "I know this show lives on because you're the queen of morning television."

Ripa responded with another joke: "Oprah's the real queen, how dare you."

Watch: Baby-Faced Kelly Ripa Danced On Long-Forgotten TV Show 30 Years Ago